Chiles from around the world have very distinct flavor profiles and characteristics. The following chile profiles include common uses for each type and the heat level in Scoville units.
Ají Amarillo: Used mainly in sauces, soups and stews, this chile is orange in color, thin fleshed. It features a fruity flavor with hints of berry. Heat Level = 30,000 – 50,000 Scovilles.
Ají Mirasol: This chile is often used to make yellow mole sauces or salsas and as a condiment. It is deep yellow in color, medium fleshed and also has a fruity or berrylike flavor. Heat Level = 2,500 – 5,000 Scovilles.
Ají Panca: Used in sauces and fish recipes. It is dark brown, medium fleshed with a fruity flavor. Heat Level = 500 – 1,000 Scovilles.
Ancho: Used in mole and sauces or as a seasoning in powdered form. A dried poblano chile; ranging in color from brick red to deep mahogany. It is often considered the sweetest among dried chiles with a mild, fruity flavor and hints of coffee, plum and liquorice. Heat Level = 1,000 – 2,000 Scovilles.
Cascabel: Used in salsas, sauces, soups, and stews. This chile is felt in the back of the throat. It is thick fleshed, slightly acidic, lightly smoky, with a hint of nuttiness. It has been compared to an old red Bordeaux. It is dark red to brown in color. Heat Level= 2,000 – 4,000 Scovilles.
Cayenne: Commonly used as a seasoning in powdered form and in sauces and soups. It is bright red and thin fleshed. The chile features an acidic, tart flavor. Other types of Cayenne are De Arbol and Guajillo. Heat Level= 30,000 – 50,000 Scovilles.
Chile De Arbol: Commonly used in powdered form to make sauces or to season soups and stews. This chile is bright, brick red in color, thin fleshed and has a smoky, grassy flavor. The acidic heat of this pepper can be felt on the tongue. Heat Level= 15,000 – 30,000 Scovilles.
Guajillo: Used in chile sauces, salsas, soups and stews. It is deep orange-red in color and thin fleshed. Hints of green tea and berries combine with slightly piney flavors to produce a sweet heat. Heat Level= 2,500 -5,000 Scovilles.
Habanero: Most commonly used in sauces or salsas. This chile is yellow, orange in color and produces an intense, fiery heat. It is very thin fleshed with tropical flavors including papaya, coconut and berries. Heat Level= 100,000 – 350,000 Scovilles.
Jalapeño: Often used in dips, salsas, sauces, soups and stews. Can be used in breads or just about anything that needs a little spice. The color ranges from bright green to deep red at maturity. They are thick fleshed with a green vegetable like flavor. The red jalapeño has a hint of sweetness. Heat Level= 2,500 to 8,000 Scovilles.
Chipotle: Used in salsas, sauces and soups. The most common form of chipotle is the dried, smoked red jalapeño. It is also known as chile ahumado or chile meco. Ranging from dull tan to coffee brown in color, chipotle has a smoky, sweet flavor with earthy, chocolate tones. The heat is subtle on the tongue. Heat Level= 10,000 – 15,000 Scovilles.
Mora: Typically used in sauces and salsas. A dried, smoked jalapeño reddish brown in color. It is medium fleshed with a sweet, mesquite flavor with hints of plum and tobacco. Heat Level: 10,000 to 20,000 Scovilles.
Morita: Used in salsas and sauces. A dried, smoked jalapeño bright orange-red to red-brown in color. It is medium fleshed with a sweet, smoky flavor and hints of plum and fig. Heat Level= 15,000 – 25,000 Scovilles.
Mulato: Used in mole, soups, stews and sauces. It is deep chocolate brown in color and medium to thick fleshed. It is slightly smokier than ancho with hints of liquorice, cherry and tobacco. Heat Level= 2,500-5,000 Scovilles.
NM Green: Used in salsas, soups and stews and as a seasoning in powdered form. It is medium olive to dark green in color and thin fleshed. It has a sweet to lightly smoky flavor with hints of citrus, dried apple, herbs and celery. Heat Level: 1,000 – 2,000 Scovilles.
NM Red (Chile Colorado): Used mostly in red chile sauces and as a seasoning in powdered and flaked form. It is bright red to scarlet in color and thin fleshed. It has a slightly earthy flavor with hints of sage and cherry. Heat Level= 2,500-5,000 Scovilles.
Pasado: Used in breads, soups and stews. It is dark, orange-red in color and features a dusty, roasted sweet flavor with hints of apple, cherry, and liquorice. The heat has been known to linger on the front of the tongue. Heat Level= 4,500 – 5,000 Scovilles.
Pasilla (Chile Negro): Known as part of the “holy trinity” of chiles [along with ancho and mulato] that is used in traditional mole sauces. It is also used as a seasoning in powdered form and works well with seafood. Pasilla is dark, raisin brown in color, thin fleshed with hints of grape and liquorice. Heat Level= 1,000 – 1,500 Scovilles.
Pequin (Piquin): Used in vinegars, soups, sauces, and salsas. It is light to orange-red in color, thin fleshed with a light, sweet flavor and hints of citrus, corn and nuts. It has an intense deep, fiery heat. Heat Level= 30,000 to 60,000 Scovilles.
Pulla: Used in soups and stews. Blood red in color, thin fleshed with hints of cherry and liquorice. Pulla features what has been referred to as a “dry, dusty heat.” Heat Level= 700-3,000 Scovilles.
Serrano (Chile Seco): Used mainly in sauces and as a seasoning in powdered form. The Serrano or Chile Seco is orange-red in color, thin fleshed and with hints of citrus. Heat Level= 5,000 – 15,000 Scovilles.